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07.12.2004 General News

Voting brisk and orderly, key players vote

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Accra, Dec. 7, GNA - Voting was progressing well throughout the country on Tuesday with the Chairman of the Electoral Commission expressing satisfaction with the balloting.

All the four presidential candidates and former President Jerry John Rawlings also cast their votes.

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan warned party officials and observers not to interfere with the work of Presiding Officers.

Voting started throughout the country at 0700 hours and although there were delays at some polling stations because of late arrival of voting material, voting has been going on smoothly.

Voters are choosing a President and 230 lawmakers after a gruelling electioneering campaign as the country continues to build on its democracy.

An estimated 10.288 million registered voters out of a population of 18.9 million Ghanaians are expected to cast their votes in some 22,000 polling stations across the country.

About 950 Parliamentary Candidates, including 110 independent candidates, are contesting the 230 parliamentary seats.

The EC Chairman also cautioned radio stations, especially radio presenters, to desist from broadcasting live the voting intentions of the electorate, saying it was tantamount to campaigning.

Dr Afari-Gyan said he had reports that some stations were airing live interviews, which asked voters about the parties they intended voting for at the polling stations.

"You must be circumspect in your reportage from the polling centres," he said. "Political campaigning ended last Sunday and it is against the Electoral Law and Regulations to make utterances that have the potential of influencing voters."

President John Agyekum Kufuor, who is the candidate of the NPP, was the 398th voter to vote at the Dzorwulu Open Space Polling Station in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency in the Greater Accra Region. His wife Theresa and Mr Kwadwo Okyere Mpiani, Chief of Staff, also voted at the station that has 965 voters.

Speaking to a horde of both local and foreign journalists, who struggled to pose questions to President Kufuor after voting, he said: "I sense a lot of goodwill all over the country with the orderly manner the elections are being conducted.

"With about a third of the voters voting by now, today would be a very eventful day because the electorate would decide in a historic manner. So far reports do not show any violent trend and will remain the same throughout the day", he said.

President Kufuor said generally the massive turn out of the electorate indicated that the Government was on the right path towards socio-economic development and "surely they are giving me the victory today".

Mr George Opesika Aguddey, Presidential Candidate of the Convention People's Party (CPP), cast his vote at exactly 0939 hours and urged Ghanaians to gear up for a major political upset by his Party at the end of Tuesday's voting.

Mr Aguddey, 59, and Chief Executive Officer of the Gocrest Security Company, told Journalists: "Today marks the beginning of a new political era in Ghana. This election will be a good turnaround for the CPP." He said CPP would cause a major surprise amidst cheers from some electorate.

Professor John Evans Atta Mills, Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), said he was satisfied with the voting process and was confident that he would win the election.

"The question of what I will do in the event I lost does not arise at all because I can tell from my tour of the country that I and the NDC have such phenomenal support that there is no way I would lose," he said.

Prof. Mills made the statement in an interview with Journalists after he had voted at the Regimanuel Phase One Polling Station in the Ledzokuku Constituency.

After thumb printing, Prof. Mills kissed the ballot paper a number of times before putting it into the ballot box.

Vice President Aliu Mahama who cast his vote at the Civil Service Training Centre Polling Station in the La-Koo Electoral Area and urged all contestants in the general election to be ready to accept the results in dignity in the interest of Ghana.

"We are fully aware of the conflicts in our neighbouring countries and their effect on the people so we must endeavour to accept the results in good faith no matter how it goes," he said.

In an interview with journalists after casting his vote, Vice President Mahama said with the efforts made by the Electoral Commission, complemented by the Government, to ensure that the elections proceeded peacefully in a free, fair and transparent manner, he was optimistic that the process would be smooth and trouble-free.

"Our goal has been to normalise the electoral process to instil confidence in democracy and we have done our best to make sure it is credible."

Former President Jerry John Rawlings called on voters to be principled and vigilant because there were reports and intentions of electoral fraud in some parts of the country.

"But if Ghanaians will sit up and be principled, vigilant and courageous then they can prevent it and they will not be robbed of their victory," he said.

Former President Rawlings said this when he cast his vote at exactly 0915 hours at the Castle Public Works Department Polling Station cheered on by a group of people. This halted voting for about 10 minutes.

Former President Rawlings said the kind of promotions that went on in the electronic media and reports of alleged missing ballot papers in the Volta Region spoke of volumes of intentions to rig the elections.

Meanwhile, at Kwamikrom in the Volta Region, a man was shot dead and several others received gunshot wounds when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a group of people on Monday.

The dead was identified as Isaac Ochere while Evans Yaw Gyamwodie, Kelvin Kwame Latse, Harry Kofi and three persons yet to be identified were rushed to the hospital for treatment.

Mr Vincent Papawo, Record Officer at Margaret Maquart Catholic Hospital at Kpando, confirmed that the corpse of Isaac Ochere had been deposited at the mortuary for autopsy.

A source of the Kpando Police Station confirmed the list of casualties but would not comment further.

the Volta Regional Hospital at Ho while the others were being treated at Kpando.

The Police said they were investigating the cause of the shooting. Meanwhile, tension continues to mount in the area as some youth wore red armbands and headgears and chanted war songs.

In another development, the Togolese Authorities closed their side of the border with Ghana at Aflao this morning, raising fears of a repeat of a similar closure during the Presidential rerun between the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the 2000 Elections.

Ghanaian security personnel told the GNA at the border at 0700 hours that they had no pre-information from their Togolese counterparts about the decision to keep their side of the frontier closed when it was due to re-open at 0600 hours on Tuesday.

The security sources said their Togolese counterparts told them they were awaiting instructions from their superiors before reopening the border.

Many travellers, who arrived at Aflao after 2200 hours on Monday, have been waiting to cross on Tuesday morning.

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